Want to stay active during your pregnancy but don’t know what exercises to do? Sassy Mama has you covered with our ultimate prenatal fitness guide.
Being pregnant is no excuse for throwing your fitness regime out of the window! Contrary to the common misconception that exercising during pregnancy is risky, regular exercise during the course of pregnancy actually provides a multitude of benefits. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of physical activities that have been proven to be conducive to a healthier and easier pregnancy.
Editor’s Note: Some studios and facilities, such as pools, will be closed or operating classes on a reduced schedule during the Covid-19 outbreak in Hong Kong. We always recommend that you contact these businesses directly to find out more before participating in any prenatal fitness activities.
Often, when the topic of prenatal fitness comes up, the immediate thought that comes to mind is prenatal yoga. Yoga classes specifically designed to cater to expectant mamas have popped up all over Hong Kong and there is a reason why they are so popular. A safe and slow-paced physical activity, yoga provides a semi-challenging full-body workout that strengthens and tones your muscles. This, in turn, relieves pregnancy-related symptoms, such as back pain. In addition, the breathing exercises that you learn will be useful during labour. Most importantly, as meditation is a core component in yoga, many pregnant women acquire a sense of calmness after each session – which is very important for a positive and relaxed mindset!
While prenatal yoga places more emphasis on relaxation, prenatal pilates is more about preparing for the birth. Depending on which trimester you’re in, classes are designed to accommodate the changes to your body. We suggest that you go for pilates if you are searching for a more challenging activity that mainly targets the pelvic floor muscles. Not only do strong pelvic floor muscles ease the process of labour and birth, but they also help avoid leakage, when you laugh too hard or sneeze during the latter stages of your pregnancy, when the baby is really pressing down on your bladder. Inevitably, when you’re pregnant you are most likely to find yourself to be more clumsy with a tendency to fall, so another plus for prenatal pilates is that it can help with improving your balance by developing your core strength.
Strength and Conditioning
Strength and conditioning training for mamas is all about modifying your gym routine so that it is safer for you and baby. A smart coach will also use this training to better prepare you for the physical challenges of birth and beyond. You’ll get all the benefits of your normal gym workout, with some extra bonuses thrown in. To name just a few, you’ll be stronger and fitter for birth, you’ll have more control over weight changes before and after your pregnancy, and you’ll have a lower chance of getting gestational diabetes. Plus, your baby will also likely benefit, as prenatal activity has been linked to babies with healthier hearts and lungs, and lower chances of chronic health issues. Before beginning any strength and conditioning programme, get clearance from your doctor or midwife and then get in touch with a pre and postnatal exercise specialist to set you on the right path.
Sassy Mamas looking to have some fun in the sun can also look into daily, monthly and annual passes at the pool. Swimming is an excellent activity for prenatal fitness, as you won’t be stressing your joints, and you get a total body workout just by taking a dip! The Island Shangri-La offers a weekday or annual pass, with further discounts on spa and dining packages, so you can exercise and pamper yourself afterwards. Summer passes are available at the Grand Hyatt and access to the Intercontinental pool comes with any spa service. Both the Conrad and Cordis Hotel, Mong Kok also offer day passes. The Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong and all Hong Kong public pools offer daily access all week so you can visit all summer long.
If you’ve never really been a fan of fitness activity and are starting to think that maybe you should start doing some, you can test the waters first by taking some gentle strolls. It’s a great form of exercise for those less fit and is as safe as it gets. Depending on what you’re in the mood for, there are various easy walking routes.
On a hot summer day, when more shade is needed to prevent overheating, head over to Bowen Road for a pleasant stroll. A perfect option for those who would like to get some good photos during their walk is the circuit around The Peak. For the beach bums out there, feel free to take a walk from Deep Water Bay to Repulse Bay where you get an amazing sea view and the chance to have a cheeky dip in the sea before and after the walk. It never hurts to get some fresh air outdoors and there are many other options out there, so don’t be afraid to start exploring!
If you’re more of an outdoorsy mama with a dislike for stationary exercise, try taking the bike out for a spin at Sha Tin Park, which is located on the waterfront. On your ride, you’ll get to experience clean air and see great scenery in the outskirts of Hong Kong. If you don’t currently own a bike, there are numerous bike rental shops where you can pick up bikes at different locations along the path. Just bring your sunglasses and water bottle to enjoy a day out in the sun and feel the wind in your hair (and don’t forget the sunscreen!).
Prenatal Yoga and Pilates Studios
There is an endless list of studios offering prenatal yoga and/or prenatal pilates in Hong Kong, but below are a few recommendations:
Flex Studio offers both prenatal yoga and pilates. What is particularly impressive about this studio is its attention to your needs during the different stages of your pregnancy. Its prenatal pilates classes are customised for each trimester, enabling expectant mothers to achieve their optimum shape in preparation for giving birth.
Flex Studio Central, 3/F and 4/F Man Cheung Building, 15-17 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2813 2399
Covering twelve locations around Hong Kong, Pure Yoga is many mamas’ go-to yoga studio. It offers both prenatal yoga and prenatal yogalates (a combination of yoga and pilates). Once you get your membership, you can go for as many classes as you like. The environment is spacious and there are great shower facilities, so you can easily go for lunch with your friends right after class without having to rush home to freshen up.
For prenatal and postnatal ladies looking to tone up their arms and legs, H-Kore is the place to go. Start out in the dedicated Pre and Post Natal classes before moving on (if you’d like) to the Megacore Basics classes. In all classes, exercises will be modified to ensure a safe workout for women looking to stay fit during their pregnancy. With small class sizes for individual attention and upbeat music, it’s all about creating an inviting, but also challenging, group environment for the courageous and strong mumma-to-bes out there.
H-Kore Central, 3/F, Emperor Commercial Centre, 39 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong, [email protected]
Pregnant ladies who like a variety of exercise plans should look no further than In Motion, a pilates studio in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui. It offers prenatal pilates in Studio, Allegro or Mat classes, so you’ll be able to pick the method that suits your needs best, or keep switching it up. Lessons are offered in three languages (English, Cantonese and Japanese) by trained specialists in prenatal pilates, who can provide expert knowledge to focus on pelvic floor exercises.
Looking for something a little more private or for some individual attention? Inspire Yoga promises to bring the yoga studio to your home or office for a positive experience in your most comfortable location. Offering both prenatal and postnatal yoga courses, Inspire Yoga has you covered from pelvic floor strengthening all the way to birthing positions. You can even bring your partner to class to train both parents for the birthing process. Its instructors are all certified with years of experience, so mummy and baby will be properly prepared for both birth and recovery.
A convenient location to take antenatal pilates classes in is Matilda International Hospital, as it also offers antenatal delivery courses and new parent classes. You can attend weekly courses in antenatal and postnatal pilates classes, run by the Physiotherapy Department and taught by registered physiotherapists. Be sure to secure a booking as the class sizes are small and intimate!
This is a great place to go to if you want to find out exactly what’s going on with your body and whether you are developing the right muscles in preparation for birth. The clinic offers Real-Time Ultrasound Imaging which helps therapists get an accurate assessment of your muscle development, allowing them to give you some advice on the most adequate prenatal fitness regime for you.
Living out in the burbs can sometimes pose quite a problem for access to a proper studio, especially when battling traffic into the city for a gym. Luckily, we’ve found The Studio Sai Kung, which runs a prenatal yoga class twice a week and also a prenatal pilates class. With no membership needed, walk-in students are welcome to pay by the class or purchase a package to suit their needs. There is also the option to take private lessons or small group classes if you want a specifically-tailored workout to fit in with your schedule.
Prenatal Fitness Classes and Trainers
If you’re looking for guidance on exercising safely throughout your pregnancy and beyond, contact Esther at Aqua Terra Performance. She is a qualified pre and postnatal personal trainer supported by a specialist obstetrician. She’s worked with a ton of prenatal and postnatal clients in all trimesters and provides challenging, but appropriate, training that will help you get strong for you and your baby, and will help to speed up your postpartum recovery. Her private boutique studio in Stanley is convenient for southside mamas tired of commuting into town, and provides a welcome break for others wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city!
If you like working out with other mums and you live or work near Central, check out the prenatal fitness classes by Stephanie at Calibrate Studio. Designed to strengthen your pelvic floor and to provide mama-specific mobility and full-body exercises, you’ll find plenty of support on your journey to motherhood. Plus, Calibrate Studios will also provide super useful nutrition and mindset tips for mums.
After the success of her popular pre and postnatal classes at Goji Elite Studio in Sai Ying Pun, Ziggy is now branching out into an online training programme. She’s currently on maternity leave, so be sure to check back in the coming months for her most up-to-date programmes and personal training.
Sassy Mama tip: More than one mama in our office follows Ziggy on Insta for her daily updates on all things fitness, baby, toddler and life related.
Zig Fit Mama, www.zigfitmama.com
For mamas located in Discovery Bay, Kristen Handford offers weekly prenatal fitness classes by the La Serene Fountain. She uses her experience as a certified pre and postnatal personal trainer, military veteran and mother to help you become better aware of your posture and strengthen your pelvic floor and key muscle groups. Kirsten is also available for home visits and exercise programming (you can book her classes on her Facebook page).
Barre 2 Barre is a certified BarreAmped Studio that mums-to-be need not shy away from. To keep your body toned and lithe, bring a written doctor’s consent letter to the studio before you register and knowledgeable teachers will help you modify your fitness routine. They will be able to lead you through safe exercises and adjusted stretches in prenatal and postnatal exercise. If you’d like to bring along others in your due date club, you can even set up a private training Barre 2 Barre Bump Club.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and was updated by Esther Bland, the owner of Aqua Terra Performance, in March 2020.
Featured image courtesy of Getty, image 1 courtesy of Getty, image 2 courtesy of Flex HK, image 3 courtesy of Kristen Handford via Instagram, image 4 courtesy of Flex HK, image 5 courtesy of H Kore, image 6 courtesy of Getty, image 7 courtesy of Aqua Terra Performance, image 8 courtesy of Zig Fit Mama, image 9 courtesy of Kristen Handford via Instagram